The Penn State Nittany Lions‘ only challenge in today’s game was not to look past the Purdue Boilermakers. They took care of business against a far inferior opponent and showed the gap between the Boilermakers and themselves.
Penn State running back Zach Zwinak led the way for the Nittany Lions’ best offensive performance of the season. Penn State racked up 501 yards of total offense and went 10-for-12 on third-down conversions. Zwinak himself rushed for 149 yards on 26 carries and scored three touchdowns. His backfield mate, Bill Belton, contributed 90 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown as well. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg had arguably his best game of the season, going 16-of-23 for 212 yards and a touchdown.
The best news of the day for Penn State was the re-emergence of wide receiver Allen Robinson. He hauled in eight catches for 98 yards and at times looked head and shoulders above any of the coverage that Purdue threw at him. It wasn’t just the Boilermaker defense that got outclassed today, however. Penn State’s defense made several plays as well.
The Nittany Lion defense limited Purdue to just 41 yards rushing, took the ball away three times and held the Boilermakers to 4-of-11 on third downs. While Purdue quarterback Danny Etling was decently efficient, going 21-of-33 for 223 yards and a touchdown with an interception, the constant grind of the Penn State running game made Etling’s efforts insufficient to compete.
This loss likely ensures the Boilermakers won’t win a Big Ten game this season and gives the Nittany Lions a sixth win, which would make them bowl eligible if not for the postseason ban on Penn State. At the least it should give the Nittany Lions a new level of confidence going into their last two weeks of the season.